I was incredibly nervous to hear this new Seventh Wonder album. Seventh Wonder was one of the first progressive metal bands that I was able to embrace fully, and so their discography holds something of a special place in my mind. When Tommy joined Kamelot and began to change in various ways, I was afraid that SW was forgotten, or that he simply wouldn’t have the time to do anything more with this project. I thought that I was correct since we hadn’t seen a new album from the band since 2010. However, releasing through Frontiers Music on October 12th, “Tiara” has assuaged all of my fears.
I still hold SW on a pedestal in my mind. “Waiting in the Wings” still gets my blood pumping, “Mercy Falls” still makes me cry, and “The Great Escape” still gives me hope. “Tiara” joins their ranks by offering us more of what we love. Yes, melodic progressive metal is where it’s at here, though I would point out that electronic accents have been added quite liberally. The band still retains those feelings of joy, energy, and theatricality, as well; always focusing more on finger work than on riffs.
Seventh Wonder hails from Sweden. The band includes Johan Liefvendahl on guitar, Andreas Blomqvist on bass, Tommy Karevik on vocals, Andreas Söderin on keyboards, and Stefan Norgren on drums. As I mentioned, nothing seems to have changed. The intensity, the fire, and the purity of their sound is all still there, and that makes me very happy. These guys are still working together in perfect unison.
I’ll say it: I’m not a big fan of the way Tommy sings with Kamelot. Understandably, he has to change his tone a bit in order to sing in the symphonic style, especially for the songs originally performed by Roy Khan, which is a formidable responsibility. Coming back to SW, however, Tommy hasn’t changed at all. His voice is once again vastly emotional, high ranged, and absolutely stunning at points. My respect for him has increased now that I see his ability to morph into various styles.
“Tiara” is a sprawling concept album with a story that I haven’t entirely discovered yet. As a result, it actually has quite a bit of variety to it. Some of the songs feel more like a theatrical performance, replacing progressive metal with emotional and conversational ballads. Other songs are fiery progressive metal with some great twists here and there. Yet, “Tiara” still feels like a classic SW album. Honestly, it seems like a combination of “Mercy Falls” with its long story format and “The “Great Escape” with its story of new horizons and hopes. This isn’t a hastily crafted album, as was my fear. This album is carefully created, structured, and performed. It is proggy, heavy, and melodic; telling its story with confidence, even if there may be a bit of cheese in play. Would this even be a SW album without a slice of cheese?
Right out the gate, the album has some great stuff. “The Everones” is a fantastic song that feels like a return to home, seeing as how it is the first true song on the record. I’m also a big fan of the “Farewell” suite in the middle of the album. It is a wonderful three track song with glorious melodies and such shining hope that you can’t help but smile. It also features the title melody, which I absolutely love, and the violins are a great addition, reminding me of parts of “The Great Escape”.
Unlike many albums, “Tiara” is actually stronger in the second half. The first five tracks are all great, and I love tracks 6-8 (the Farewell suite), but after that the music gets even more textured and endearing. “The Truth”, for example, is a folksy ballad with choirs and literally none of the normal progressive metal trappings. “By the Light of the Funeral Pyres”, however, jumps back into the metallic sound with gusto and passion.
“Damnation Below” is my favorite on the album, and one of my favorite songs this year. It’s the most aggressive song on the record, and I love the chorus, but it is the awesome guitar work and the instrumental in the second half that really take the cake on this song. “Exhale” ends the album with oomph and classic SW style. It truly is a triumphant final track on an album that I never thought would see the light of day.
Seventh Wonder have exceeded all of my expectations by offering yet another strong album of joyful progressive metal. Their performances are striking, and their use of nostalgia is so effective throughout the record. “Tiara” is truly an infectious assault on your senses in the same way that light is an assault on darkness. It will leave you happy, satisfied, and wanting more Seventh Wonder!
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